This past Monday, the Wellman Creek HOA board voted unanimously to stick with our current landscape-maintenance strategies. Grateful to report that the herbicide indaziflam will not be used in non-turf areas throughout the complex, as had been proposed. Wellman Creek is now headed into its eighth year with organic landscape maintenance.
We’ll continue using the same two companies we currently use. Our main landscape company, now moving into its second year with us, takes care of mowing, blowing, trimming, irrigation, and organic non-turf weed control. For organic fertilization and weed control on our lawns, we use a company that specializes in that, now headed into its fourth year with us.
Many thanks to board members who decided to continue following this path. It can be difficult to do things differently from how they’re typically done. But board members have listened to the scientific evidence and the personal experiences of residents and chosen safer options for our community.
A Little History
The path to a workable organic program at Wellman Creek has been rocky—or, rather, weedy. For the first couple years, we used an organic landscape-maintenance company with knowledgeable ownership and a great vision. Unfortunately, they were unable to follow through (and are no longer in business). The next couple years, the conventional landscape company we were using at the time said they’d implement an organic program. However, they didn’t appear to do much to learn or to follow through either.
Three years ago, we started used the company that specializes in organic weed control and fertilization on lawns. Since then, the grass has been thicker, greener, and healthier. The landscape-maintenance company we started with a year ago has made improvements to the irrigation system, which has also helped keep the lawns greener.
Things to Consider
Here are a few things you might want to know, especially if you’re looking at Wellman Creek as a place to live in the future:
- No one can promise that our landscaping will be organic forever. That depends on how the winds blow and how future HOA boards vote.
- Individual residents sometimes use conventional pesticides. However, we don’t allow this in the community gardens.
- The board has occasionally chosen to use conventional pesticides. For example, we’ve used them for yellow jackets (but not for paper wasps), for mysterious holes in one unit that might have been made by carpenter ants, and to get rid of a particular bed of Virginia creeper.
- You may be wondering why you see yellow flags on the lawns if we use organic lawn-care products. Some of the ingredients have herbicidal activity, so the company is required by the state and the city to use the flags. Those ingredients are corn gluten meal, clove oil, and chelated iron. Regulations do not require posting for spot treatments, though. That’s why you don’t see flags when our main landscape company uses an organic herbicide call Avenger on rock beds etc. Its active ingredient is citrus oil.
Other Green Choices
The board has made other green decisions in the past as well:
- Some time back, the board decided to slowly remove and replace ash trees rather than using insecticides to treat for emerald ash borer. This is big, given we originally had fifty-two ash trees.
- An educational program about wasps, with the help of residents, has helped decrease our wasp populations. Yep, believe it or not, we used to have way more wasps here.
- A few years back, we removed our original playground equipment, which was made of wood treated with arsenic. We replaced it with the current play set.
All in All
For seven years and now into an eighth, ninety-eight households have had a safer place to live where we can enjoy the outdoors all year long. Our visitors and passers-by on the creek path, including local kindergartners and people with chemical sensitivities, are safer too (pesticides can present a barrier to accessibility for some people). Our food gardens are free of pesticide drift, at least from our own HOA. Our complex is more desirable to many potential buyers and renters. It’s a record to be proud of.
If you’re working for alternatives to pesticides in your Boulder-area HOA, you might want to join the Facebook group Green HOA Boulder County Colorado. We’re exchanging information, discussing strategies, and sharing our experiences with local service providers.